home > archive > 2020 > this article

Have a heart or I’ll sell you mine

By Aimee Lindemuth
web posted September 14, 2020

The discarded remains of a man lay on a metal operating table. Murdered. Blood from the gaping hole in his chest stains the table and surrounding floor. All of the vital organs have been removed and placed on ice in a preserving refrigerator. Another man, this one alive, sits at a computer and begins setting prices for the man’s organs he just harvested. Though this is an imagined scenario it still tends to be a front and center image when people think of what could happen if selling organs was legal.

I know that if myself, a close friend, or family member needed an organ transplant, I would much prefer to at least have the option of buying organs rather than being put on a waiting list. Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University, talks about the scarcity of organs to help those who need a transplant in his “Unnecessary Tragedy” essay. The main reason for the low supply is because organs have to be donated. Williams points out that organ transplants can be vital for people to live but unlike other things that are vital like water and food, people must rely on donations instead of being able to buy them. He says “just ask yourself whether having a car, clothing or a house should be determined by the same principle governing organ transplants: ‘altruism and public trust.’ If it were, there would be massive shortages.” Williams poses the idea that people should be able to sell their organs and I agree.

Selling organs wouldn’t be necessary if the supply wasn’t so low. I believe that if people were given the incentive of money to sell organs then there might no longer be such an organ shortage and many lives could be saved. People often act in their own interest and being generous rarely fits into that, but the best way to get someone to do something is to give them an incentive. I wouldn’t be very interested in doing someone else’s yardwork, but if I get offered money to do so I am much more willing. I don’t want to simply pay someone money, but if they give me burgers in return I will pay in full.

There are many concerns about this topic such as the worry that poor people may make unwise decisions to sell an organ because of their need for money and the fear that more people may be murdered for their organs. All this still merits concern but it should be taken into consideration that people are likely to do or sell just about anything to get money they need and that organs obtained and sold illegally will be as much of a crime as ever and just as punishable. There will always be people who partake in criminal activity but I think the benefits of an increased organ supply would far outweigh the risk.

Over a hundred thousand people in America are on waiting lists for organs. About twenty people die every day because the supply of organs is not able to meet the demand. If people were able to get money for donating organs there would be a larger supply. I know that there will always be dangers when making controversial things legal but the opportunity cost of not selling organs may be lives lost. ESR

Aimee Lindemuth is senior in high school and this is her first contribution to Enter Stage Right. © 2020 Aimee Lindemuth




Site Map

E-mail ESR


© 1996-2024, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.